Women more likely to suffer from whiplash
A study has found that women are three times more likely than men to suffer from whiplash if their car is hit from behind. The study, carried out at Umea University in Sweden, concluded that this increased risk was due to the fact that women often sit higher, with a more upright seat back and closer to the wheel. Women also tend to drive smaller, lighter cars than men and may also have weaker neck muscles. The study recommends the increased use of dummies modelled on both men and women and further testing using typical female seating positions as well as men’s.
Whiplash is most commonly caused by a vehicle collision, particularly from behind. The neck is injured by the sudden movement of the head, as the force of the accident stops the vehicle. The head can be jolted and then ‘whipped’ in the opposite direction. This can occur even in low-speed collisions. This movement of the head damages the ligaments, tendons and muscles in the neck through over-stretching them. This causes pain, stiffness and loss of movement. It can also cause headaches, muscle spasms and pains in the arms and shoulders.
One of the main causes of collisions that result in whiplash is ‘tailgating,’ or driving too close to the car in front of you. This means that there is not enough space to brake safely if the car in front stops unexpectedly. A representative from the AA has stated that, “Drivers can avoid inflicting whiplash on themselves and others by keeping a safe distance – at least two seconds – from the vehicle ahead.”
Another factor is head restraints. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents recommends properly adjusting the head-restraint each time a new driver uses a car. This reduces the distance between the back of the head and the head restraint and would reduce the damage caused by whiplash in an accident.
Recovery from whiplash depends on severity. It can take from a few weeks to many years for a whiplash injury to be completely healed. A study found that the average recovery time for whiplash without any other associated symptoms was 32 days but 12% of the study’s participants had still not recovered six months after their accident.
One female whiplash victim said, “After 23 months, my neck movement is still limited…even simple neck movements can surprise me with excruciating, shooting, severe pain. With the accompanying forgetfulness, personality and mood swings, irritability, anxiety and depression, I thought I would go crazy!”
Gentle exercise and physiotherapy are considered to be the best treatments for whiplash. A whiplash patient may also need pain relief and anti-inflammatory medication in order to manage their symptoms. Wearing a collar or resting your neck is not recommended and may actually prolong your recovery.
Prolonged pain from whiplash can interfere in everyday activities and may cause problems at work. You may need to take time off work after your injury and it may mean there are certain tasks at work you can’t go straight back to.
In 2007, more than 430,000 people claimed compensation for whiplash. In one case a woman was waiting in her car at a set of traffic lights when she was hit from behind. She suffered whiplash as a result and had to take a week off work. Her car was also written off as a result of the accident. She settled out of court for £2,500. This amount took into account the length of time a doctor predicted for her recovery, the value of her car, lost earnings and other expenses.
In another case, a 28 year old woman was driving across a traffic light junction when her vehicle was hit. She suffered from whiplash and bruising to her ankles and wrists as a result of the accident. She required medical treatment, including physiotherapy, afterwards and remained an anxious driver for many months. She also had to use a rental car whilst her car was being repaired. She was awarded £4,385 to compensate for her injury and for the resulting expenses.
It is possible to claim compensation if you have suffered a whiplash injury as a result of an accident that wasn’t your fault. You should seek medical attention as soon as possible. This will set you on the road to recovery and will also ensure that there is medical evidence to back up your case. You should also speak to an experienced solicitor who will guide you through the process of claiming compensation. They will discuss with you the importance of witness statements and any other evidence as a way of establishing liability. They will also pursue your claim to achieve the amount of compensation that your claim deserves.
Macks Solicitors have many years of experience dealing with whiplash claims. Contact one of our experts now to discuss your case, without obligation.